We may feel knowledgeable about how to prepare for natural disasters like earthquakes or fires, but not know how to have conversations with loved ones on what we would do if a parent is unable to care for a child. Whether due to a global pandemic like COVID-19 or the threat of deportation - the temporary absence or loss of a parent presents challenges. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do now to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
A recent webinar (watch the recording here or download the attached slides) hosted by Children’s Council, Legal Services for Children (LSC) reviewed several caregiving alternatives, including:
- Informal arrangements
- A caregiver’s authorization affidavit
- Juvenile Dependency (Foster care)
Informal arrangements and caregiver authorization affidavits may suffice in most situations, particularly to enroll a child in school, without having to explore a legal alternative like a guardianship.
When an option like a caregiver affidavit is not ideal, it may be necessary to explore legal alternatives by consulting trusted nonprofit legal services providers like the following:
- Legal Services for Children - represents minors in immigration, guardianships, dependency, emancipation, infraction, and education matters
- (415) 863-3762 Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:30 am – 4:30 pm
- Justice and Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco – representation in a guardianship proceeding or emergency planning
- (415) 989-1616 Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm
- ACCESS SF Superior Court - support with guardianship or family law forms
- (415) 551-5880 Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4 pm
Other ways to prepare:
Complete a family preparedness plan. This Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)’s sample plan is available in English, Chinese and Spanish, and is a useful guide for all families – regardless of immigration status – to help prepare for an emergency. It includes more detailed instructions on how to complete a child care affidavit so that a relative or non-relative can care for a child during a parent’s temporary absence.
Know your rights. We have compiled a wide variety of resources on legal topics for immigrant families, including what has been published so far about rules related to “public charge.” You may also watch the “We Have Rights” video series and have the 24 Hour Rapid Response Line (415.200.1548) pre-programmed in your phone to safely report and connect with legal services if someone you know is detained.
Prepare Financially. Protect your assets and develop savings goals if you can in case of an emergency. Even if you can’t access an attorney or financial advisor, trusted nonprofits like Mission Asset Fund and UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) may provide financial coaching and resources as highlighted in this presentation on the financial implications of the detention or deportation of a loved one.
Register for community gatherings through Children’s Council’s website. We offer Tuesday Playgroups, a monthly “Parent Cafe” and other workshops and fun activities for all families. We will also repeat special workshops like the one about preparing for a family emergency with LSC. Even as we socially distance, don’t lose sight that you belong to a virtual community.
Have a conversation with your kids about the “tough stuff.” Art, play and storytelling can help young children cope and communicate through big emotions. Check out this book list curated by Tandem, Partners in Early Learning® and a handout with tips on how to navigate difficult topics like incarceration, divorce or death.